Morpeth Sunday League in appeal for new teams

The Morpeth Sunday League is appealing for new teams after seeing its number fall from 46 to next season’s 11 in only five years.

The league was founded in 1962 to provide football for those who were unable to secure places in the thriving local Saturday leagues.

The league has catered for thousands of players over its 52-year existence, mainly thanks to three committee stalwarts, Syd Johnson, Ken Gray and John Mason, who between them have given more than 150 years’ service to the league and local football in general.

Unfortunately, as the league approaches its 53rd season, interest has waned so much that, during the last five years the league has shrunk from having 46 teams playing in four divisions to the prospect of having just 11 playing in one division during the 2014-15 season.

The league currently has teams from Bedlington, Ashington, Morpeth and Amble areas including HMP Northumberland.

In the past it has had teams from Shilbottle, Alnwick and Longframlington competing.

A spokesperson for the league said: “The demise of adult football is a national problem and there are various reasons for the lack of participation, from seven-day working, players working away from the area, the closure of pubs and clubs and poor facilities at increased costs.

“Also, later licensing laws no doubt have had an effect with players preferring to stay out late at night and then letting their clubs down by not turning up on the Sunday morning.

“Various suggestions have been made to try to remedy the problems, however, there is no easy answer and we have reached a stage where trying to secure the future of the league is at crisis point.

“We are looking to attract new teams to the league and would like to hear from any adult age teams who may be interested in joining.

“We have drastically reduced fees for this season and any new club would pay £25 entrance fee plus a £50 bond, which would be returnable provided the club completes one season or more in the league.

“Clubs must take out insurance for their players through the league and this is offered at a very competitive rate.

“Obviously clubs would need a pitch and this is probably the biggest expense they will incur.

“We will be only too pleased to offer help and advice for any team thinking of taking the plunge.”

Any clubs interested in joining should contact league secretary Alan Parker on (01670) 819459 or Syd Johnson, president, on (01670) 531224.